The nonprofit Cancer Project filed a lawsuit today on behalf of three New Jersey plaintiffs asking the Essex County superior court to compel [Oscar Meyer, Hebrew National, and Nathan's Famous] to place cancer-risk warning labels on hot dog packages sold in New Jersey.
The plaintiffs seek class action status on behalf of all New Jersey citizens who have eaten, or are likely to eat, hot dogs. The theory is that by placing such labels on hot dogs, frankfurters, sausages and the like, consumers will be able to make an educated choice about the foods they eat, in full knowledge that the inevitable consequence of an all hot dog diet is colorectal cancer.
The Cancer Project is a branch of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Of course the people behind the suit know full well that their case has no chance of success. The suit is a stunt, or as the plaintiffs might put it, an educational project. That court rules, even in New Jersey, demand punishment for those who file lawsuits with no prayer of success is no deterrent.
And why would it be? The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, despite its name, is not a health organization. Rather, it is closely and strongly affiliated with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, receives donations from PETA, and advocates for a vegan diet not out of a commitment to health, but because it believes animals, including hot dogs, should enjoy the same rights as humans. In the words of former PCRM spokesman Jerry Vlasak, "'I don't think you'd have to kill – assassinate – too many [animal experimenters]. I think for five lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, two million, 10 million non-human lives." That may not be responsible medicine, but it's entirely consistent with the ideals of PETA.
Perhaps more than a Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, what America needs is a Lawyers Committee for Responsible Litigation, devoted to naming and shaming lawyers and the clients who use them to promote illegitimate social agendas or to extort money from defendants, using litigation as a substitute for politics.
Perhaps we could begin by placing warning labels on such people.